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Any Need For Mega Party In Nigeria?

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Recently, a political party platform met under the aegis of National Political Summit Group (NPSG) with a common resolution to work towards the realisation of a mega party in Nigeria.
 The essence and objective of a mega party is to eliminate the current proliferation of political parties in Nigeria and possibly have two political party system.
 Presently, Nigeria has 55 registered political parties and about 25 of these political parties are jostling for a mega party.
 Proponents of the mega party argue that the move will provide good governance, economic prosperity and social justice to the downtrodden citizens of Nigeria. Proponents of a mega party in Nigeria include Chief Olu Falae, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Chief Ayo Adebanyo, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Chief Fredrick Fasheun,  Chief Dapo Sarumi and Alhaji Balarabe Musa.
 Others are Dr. Usman Bugaje, national secretary of the Action Congress (AC), Mr. Sule Hammah representing the Buhari Organisation (TBO) and Mujahidine Asari Dokubo among others.
 However, Nigerians may be tempted to ask whether this group of prominent Nigerians have critically evaluated the problems of mega party and why the need to merge these political parties. Does the law regulating the registration of political parties in Nigeria through the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) permit such merger?
 The spokesperson of the National Political Summit Group and former Minister of Information, Chief Dapo Sarumi noted that the proposed political platform would not be merger of existing registered political parties, neither would it be an alliance of parties, but entirely a new political party bound with a common ideology of good governance and social justice. According to him, the planned mega party will comprise  leaders and political parties with progressive ideology, working towards a new Nigeria to reflect the wishes of the Nigerian people.
 Former Lagos State Governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande who is also the national chairman of one of the registered political parties, Action Party of Nigeria (APN), said the progressives were coming together to form the mega party in Nigeria to give the nation a clear-cut direction to good life and good governance.
 He explained that the mega party had become imperative because the ruling Peoples Democratic Party had allegedy failed to provide credible leadership to Nigerians, stressing that the nation needed a sense of direction to stop the attendant daily suffering of Nigerians.
 However, judging from historical perspectives, the history of mergers and alliances in Nigeria’s political development is always bright with prospects, but devoid of a common strategic objective to achieve the mega party dream.
 In the Second Republic, despite several moves among the then defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP) and Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) to fuse together into a mega party with a common view to wresting political power from the then ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN), such move met a political end.
 Although the parties and their leaders succeeded in evolving a political platform, the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA),  the leaders of the two political parties, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo failed to agree and reach a compromise on who should step down for the other.
 In the end, the plan fell and all retreated to their respective political parties to contest the 1983 presidential elections. The irreconcilable differences  among the United Progressive Grand Alliance paved way for the then ruling NPN to be returned as the winner of the presidential elections.
 In the same vein, the fusion of the All Peoples Party (APP) and the Alliance for Democracy (AD) which succeeded in fielding Chief Olu Falae as the presidential flagbearer of the APP/AD accord did not achieve the target. The political marriage collapsed immediately after the 1999 presidential election in which Chief Olusegun Obasanjo of PDP won the election.
 Again, the alliance talks between the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the Action Congress (AC) did not achieve meaningful result as the two presidential candidates, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) in the 2007 presidential elections did not agree to step down for each other, and the dream of the opposition parties to present one single candidate in the presidential election of 2007 suffered a setback.
 Against this background, Nigerians are doubtful if the proposed mega party will succeed considering the various political parties involved in the merger philosophy and inclinations.
 Unfortunately, some of the advocates of the mega party have pulled out before the fruition of the idea. A crack visibly noticeable within the proponents of the mega party was the declaration by the leadership of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) that it was not in the mega party. The PPA leadership said “the party is not for mega party, we are for electoral alliance”. The party further said “we are supporting any talk which can make the opposition cohesive and strong and not to lose our identity with the merger of political parties”.
 In the same vein, another political party, Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) also denied being a party to the mega party’s idea. The CDC’s national chairman, Madu Edozie clearly distanced his party from the formation of the mega party.  Even more is the fact that the Action Congress leadership is divided on the desirability of the mega party.
 There is indication that some strong forces in the camp of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar have refused to drop Action Congress for the mega party.
 But, according to an opposition Action Congress (AC) member in Rivers State, Hon. Shadrack Tetenmi-Lebari, the issue of mega party was the best move which would checkmate the excesses of the ruling party, wondering where the interest of the promoters of mega party actually lay.
 Mr Shadrack added that Nigerians were ready to contribute to the mega party formation on the condition that there was transparency on  the part of the mega party proponents.
 However, the mega party may face some hurdles  with the electoral body as the law regulating the registration of political parties does not permit the registration of a mega party. Registered political parties are allowed by law to maintain their individual identity for financial grant from the nation’s electoral body.
 Nigerians are eagerly waiting to see the future of the mega party formation.

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Bayelsa Assembly Committee on Environment To Curb Unlawful Sand Dredging Activities.

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With various complaints and pettitions by communities impacted by the activities of illegal sand dredging and mining in the Bayelsa State, the state House of Assembly has organised a public hearing on a bill to regulate the operations of sand dredging to ensure that the environment is not adversely impacted on.

The bill tagged ” Regulation of Sand Dealing and Dredging Operations Bill 2019″  according to the House Committee on Environment is aimed at gathering inputs from experts, technocrats and the public in order to formulate a people-friendly bill that will serve the best interest of Bayelsans.

The House Committee Chairman on Environment and member representing Nembe Constituency one, Hon. Ebi  Ben Ololo noted that the public hearing became necessary on the need to remediate the environment and tackle the challenges posed by sand dredging operations in the state.

” The importance of this bill cannot be overemphasized because it can save lives. You are aware a number of times so many communities and their representatives have sent pettitions to this House, specifically the  Chairman House Committee on Environment as per the environmental degradation that has taken place as regards the illegal sand dealing and dredging activities in various communities all around the state”, he said.

“With those number of complains and pettitions we thought it wise to put up a bill to take care of those issues. Most important thing is that we all know that public hearing is a mechanism by which parliamentary Committees obtain information, deal with the information obtained and also exchange views with experts and the public so as to fine-tune whatever bill there is for the public hearing to come up with a top class bill that will be people- friendly and also save lives of the people in Bayelsa”, he added.

” Lots of suggestions, contributions, opinions and interactions have been made as regards this very important bill, like we have assured the representatives of the various groups that we will go back in our committee, look at those very important areas where they have suggested and also fine tune the bill. So that in no distant time we will come up with a very formidable bill that will stand the test of time. That the people will benefit from”, Ololo reassured.

He lauded participants for their insightful contributions and opinions during the public hearing, promising that the Committee would do justice to come up with a bill that would meet the expectations of Bayelsans.

In her contribution, House Chief Whip and member representing Yenagoa Constituency 2, Hon. Ebiowu Koku Obiyai lamented the deliberate connivance between communities and the sand dealers, warning that if nothing is done to regulate the activities of sand dredgers Bayelsa communities will be eroded away.

The House Whip also expressed concerns on the activities of companies carrying out dredging business near bridges and sued a delibrate efforts by all in order to save the bridges from collapse.

By Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa.

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COVID-19: Dep Speaker Empowers PPE Producers, Underprivileged In Ahoada East LGA …Ready To Partner UNICEF

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The Deputy Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Edison Ehie, has stated that his office has contributed to ensuring that the impact of the hardship warranted by effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is lessoned in Ahoada East Local Government Area (LGA).
Ehie, who was speaking to the RCCE Media Team, stated that the measures taken to achieve this came in two-fold: providing necessary finance to producers of Personal Preventive Equipment (PPE) in the area to enable them mass produce, and buying same off them to give to people in the grassroots.
The other measure, he said, was the provision of financial Palliatives to the tune of #5,000 each to identified underprivileged in the LGA. This include the elderly, pregnant women, widows and widowers, and generally the vulnerable.
According to Ehie, towards this end, about #5 million has been expended so far in the first phase, while preparation is being made for the next phase to commence.
The Deputy Speaker explained that his decision to empower people who already have the expertise to produce the PPEs was necessitated by the need to provide the finance for them to mass produce their products, and to provide the products to those who need them.
“So, we give you (them) the  finance to produce hand sanitizers, face masks, etc., then we buy them from you (them) to make sure you (they) profit, then we supply (the products) to the people at the grassroots”, he said.
He also stated his preparedness to partner with UNICEF in any way required to ensure the safety of lives of Rivers people.
Ehie revealed that in addition to what is being done, his office is also preparing for the challenges of post COVID-19 among the people of his constituency.
“We’ve started brainstorming on how we can also support the people as regards the post COVID-19 era. That is going to be another very challenging period for our people because when the pandemic gradually phases out, that’s when the reality of hardship will come on.
“We’re trying to put our heads together to see how we can intervene again at that stage”, he said.
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CROSIEC Deploys About 8,000 Personnel For LG Elections

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Ahead of the next Saturday’s rescheduled Local Government elections in Cross River, about 8000 personnel are said to have been deployed across the state to ensure the smooth conduct of the elections.
The Chairman of the Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission, Dr. Mike Ushie, who disclosed this in Calabar while
speaking on preparations by the commission, said they are ready for the elections and one hundred percent compliant with post COVID-19
elections guidelines recently released by the Independent National Electoral Commission as well as the National Centre for Diseases
Control.
He said: “Eight thousand personnel have been mobilised to cover the two thousand, two hundred and twenty-six polling units in the state.
There will be three personnel per pooling unit, five at the accreditation centres, five at the local government and ward coalition centres.
“Accreditation and voting will take place simultaneously and  in line with INEC guidelines, there will be two levels of queuing  and voters
will vote in batches while maintaining social distance.
“We had to make sure that we are on course and lives are protected. Luckily INEC released the procedure for post COVID-19 elections and I
must say that we are in full compliance with it. INEC said we have to provide hand sanitizers, face masks and we have adopted all the
procedures one hundred percent.
“ We have gone beyond INEC  and have gone ahead to procure hand sanitizers, hand washing containers, a good number of face masks  and
we are working seriously to ensure that the right thing is done”, he said.
He added that the commission has given sufficient notice for the elections and confirmed that five political parties will be participating in Saturday’s elections.
From FRIDAY NWAGBARA, Calabar.
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